Dr. Michelle Alfa
Dr. Michelle Alfa
Dr. Michelle Alfa

Principal Investigator, St. Boniface Research Centre

Degrees: B.Sc. (Manitoba 1975), M.Sc. (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (1980), Ph.D. (Alberta 1986)

Mailing Address: Microbiology, St. Boniface Research Centre, 351 Tache Ave, Winnipeg, MB R2H 2A6

E-mail: malfa@dsmanitoba.ca

Dr. Alfa is not currently accepting new students (Feb. 2015)

Research Interests:
Dr. Alfa’s research interests focus on hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) derived from exogenous sources such as the patient-care environment or contaminated medical devices.

Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) pose a significant challenge within healthcare. The main routes of transmission within healthcare includes patient to patient, hands of healthcare providers to patient and environment to patient. Of these transmission modes, there is ample evidence that the environment within healthcare facilities is a significant source (reservoir) for HAIs related to acquisition and infection by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) and Clostridium difficile. Of these HAIs, C.difficile is the most challenging to eradicate from the environment as it forms spores and can survive on environmental surfaces for years. In addition to the environment as a reservoir for HAIs, medical devices can also act as reservoirs for infection transmission. Recent reports in Europe and North America have documented outbreaks of carbapenem-resistant Gram negative organisms from contaminated endoscopes that have resulted in high rates of transmission that resulted in carriage of these multi-resistant organisms. The research in the Infectious Disease laboratory focuses on prevention of HAIs.

A crucial aspect of infectious disease in humans is the status of the gut microbiome. We have more microorganisms in our gut that we have human cells in our body! The health of the gut microbiome plays a major role in warding off infections. The gut microbiome of humans changes and becomes less diverse at around 60 years of age. This “senescence” of the human gut microbiome in the elderly has relevance to HAIs because the changes in the gut microbiome of elderly patients often makes them more susceptible to developing infections such as C.difficile. Dr. Alfa’s research laboratory is involved in clinical studies to evaluate whether prebiotics can lead to a more balance gut microbiome in the elderly population and reduce their risk of infection.

Recent Publications:

For an up to date link to publications from Dr. Alfa please click here

1. Alfa MJ, Olson N, Murray BL. Comparison of clinically relevant benchmarks and channel sampling methods used to assess manual cleaning compliance for flexible gastrointestinal endoscopes. Am J Infect Control 2014 Jan; 42(1):e1-5.
2. Alfa MJ, Olson N. Comparison of washer-disinfector cleaning indicators: impact of temperature and cleaning cycle parameters. Am J Infect Control 2014 Feb;42(2):e23-26.
3. Alfa M. Monitoring and improving the effectiveness of cleaning medical and surgical devices. Am J Infect Control 2013 May; 41 (5 Suppl):S56-S59.
4. Trajtman AN, Manickam K, Macrae M, Bruning NS, Alfa M. Continuing performance feedback and use of the ultraviolet visible marker to assess cleaning compliance in the healthcare environment. J Hosp Infect 2013 April; 84:166-172.
5. Alfa MJ, Fatima I, Olson N. Validation of ATP to audit manual cleaning of flexible endoscope channels. Am J Infect Control 2013 March; 41(3):245-248.
6. Alfa MJ, Fatima I, Olson N. The ATP test is a rapid and reliable audit tool to assess manual cleaning adequacy of flexible endoscope channels. Am J Infect Control 2013 March; 41(3):249-253.
7. Alfa M, Olson N, Buelow-Smith L, Murray BL. Alkaline detergent combined with a routine ward bedpan washer disinfector cycle eradicates Clostridium difficile spores from the surface of plastic bedpans. Am J Infect Control 2013 April; 41(4):381-383.

Laboratory Members:

Nancy Olson Research Technologist nolson@sbrc.ca (204) 235-3498
David Bray Research Technologist nbray@sbrc.ca (204) 235-3498
Michelle Alfa Principal Investigator malfa@sbrc.ca (204) 235-3498